Remember to take time to stop and smell the roses

Published 6:50 am Sunday, July 7, 2013

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

So often over the years we have seen and heard the quote “Stop and smell the roses,” which is trying to tell all of us that we need to slow our lives down and really take a look at what is going on in our lives and the world. Our lives have become so hectic with all of the activities we participate in at home, church and work that we really don’t take time for ourselves. I am as guilty as the next person but I do try to spend a few minutes every day during the gardening season just sitting on the patio and listening to the birds singing and enjoying what is growing in the gardens.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Sometimes it is the smallest things that bring the most joy into my life, and one night as I sat out by the Victorian gardens at dusk I was reminded of this quote. It was about 8:30 that evening and the lights had just come on in the gazebo, and the magic of the evening was enveloping my spirit. A few stars were just beginning to twinkle amidst the clouds floating over the darkening sky. In the distance a cardinal was singing to his mate and telling her good night my love and to be safe through the night. Cardinals are usually the last bird of the evening I hear, and I love the songs they sing to each other.

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The fountain was making its own music as the water tumbled from one level to the other and the daytime sounds were dimming and becoming the music of the quiet evening. A light breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay thankfully, and the cat decided to join me on the bench for a tummy rub and so our quiet evening was unfolding. I looked at the gardens in front of me and was reminded of how beautiful they would be when the flowers began to bloom.  Cosmos, zinnias, phlox, bee balm, bachelor buttons, balsam, liatris and the magical kiss-me-over the garden gate would soon burst forth with their own color palates. A single firefly flew in front of us blinking his signal light as if to say: “relax and enjoy the quiet of the evening.”

How many of us ever really just sit back and let our minds go silent and feel the mood of the quiet? I am slowly learning to do just that as each year I get older and realize that life on earth is so very short. I have lost many of my first cousins in the past few years, all of them still in the prime of their lives. As I sat quietly breathing in the scent of the evening I reflected on just that quote. We don’t sit back and truly enjoy life or our gardens.

Carol Hegel Lang took this photo of a lovely rose growing in her gardens.

Carol Hegel Lang took this photo of a lovely rose growing in her gardens.

This year I am hosting only two garden tours (a private one for a garden club and the United Methodist Women of my church will be open to the public July 20). I have worried over garden tours before, and this year has been no different. Will the people touring the gardens be expecting this beautifully landscaped yard with neat flower beds only to find that my gardens are cottage gardens? The definition of a cottage garden from Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia is a garden that exemplifies freedom and joy. This is a backyard wildlife habitat, and the birds don’t care if the gardens are messy or neat and tidy. I want the guests to sit on the benches and really look at what is growing in the gardens and ask why this plant is here or hear the birds as they fly through the gardens looking for insects. I want them to watch for the butterflies and the garden fairies and express their delight when they see them. In other words I want them to stop and smell the roses.

Recently I came across this quote from Princess Grace of Monaco, and it is such an enlightening one that I am going to share it with you: “When at last I took the time to look into the heart of a flower, it opened up a whole new world; a world where every country walk would be an adventure, where every garden became an enchanted one.”

I truly wish each and every one of you could experience this joy by taking some time to just sit quietly and listen to the sounds of nature, smell the fragrance of each flower, the flutter of wings of a butterfly or moth as it glides through the sky, the twinkling of stars as dusk arrives and the inner peace it can bring to our lives.

Over the years as my gardening skills have progressed from beginner to a confident gardener I have truly been blessed with the richness of nature that abounds in my own backyard. I can spend time learning about all the treasures that God has given me in these gardens and then pass them on to my granddaughter and other new gardeners to enjoy also.  When people tour the gardens I love to watch their faces light up as they discover some of these treasures also and listen as they ask questions about the different flowers that grow here. And so I end this with a quote from Kelly Scheaffer: “Happiness flutters in the air whilst we rest among the breaths of nature.” So stop and smell the roses and renew your spirit.


Carol Hegel Lang is an Albert Lea resident and local green thumb. Her email is